/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Do you buy budget range food?

Food prices can

We’re planning an investigation later this year on the differences between supermarket budget, standard and premium food ranges and we want to hear your experiences. Are you buying more budget food?

Are there certain foods you would happily trade down on, such as fruit and veg? Or are there other foods that you’d always spend as much as you could afford?

In theory I would happily buy budget range fruit and veg, but when I last tried budget potatoes and carrots I found them to be really watery, so I went back to buying standard.

My aunt buys budget range natural yoghurt and says it does the job perfectly and I’ve used budget butter when baking and couldn’t really tell the difference. But I’m not convinced that budget baked beans would be as good. I’m a Heinz girl through and through and I don’t eat them often enough to make any real saving by trading down.

Having said that, when we last taste tested baked beans, Morrisons Value beans scored the same as Heinz so maybe I should just give them a go.

What do you look for in food?

As a family we don’t eat a lot of meat, but when we do I always buy free-range or organic and go for the premium ranges. Why? Because I want to know where my meat is from, that it’s not packed with cheap fillers and that the animal had a fairly decent life.

If you’re considering trading down what would you think about? Is it a decision based entirely on cost? Or would you also consider the quality and nutritional aspect of the food? How about the origin of the food? And if it were meat or fish, would the welfare of the animal play a part in your decision?

Last time we investigated this topic people told us that they regularly bought budget avocados, fruit, pasta, muesli, cornflakes, tinned tomatoes and toffee and chocolate. Are there any other foods that you’re convinced are just as good in the budget range? Or any that you want to know about and would like us to include in our investigation? Let us know and we will incorporate them if possible.

Do you buy budget range supermarket food?

Only occasionally (51%, 580 Votes)

Yes - all the time (40%, 449 Votes)

No - never (9%, 100 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,129

Loading ... Loading ...
FC360 says:
18 June 2014

My parents do the shopping for this house and they definitely buy budget brands however it’s only things that we’re not too fussed about, although my dad is kinda strict with finances lol. If a big named brand is better then the budget brands then we’ll just get that however if there is no difference between the brands then we get budget to save some money. It’s amazing how some budget brand products actually taste so much nicer then the big named brand items lol.


Thanks for the comment FC360. Your avatar is pretty cool in that it includes your username 🙂 Did you design it?

And on topic – I can’t help but buy some of the cheaper food, but only if I know it’s good. Still added to Heinz ketchup (despite Which? taste tests!)


We think we make sufficient savings by generally buying own-label foodstuffs instead of major brands, so within the own-label categories we don’t mind getting the premium grade for some products and the middle grade for others, but we rarely choose the budget/value/basics products; we have no personal experience on which to judge whether the budget foods might still be satisfactory so I look forward to the results of your forthcoming investigation. I have always been a little sceptical over whether the top range supermarket produce really is significantly better in taste or quality than the standard equivalents and justifies the higher price and fancy packaging. Again, it will be interesting to see the outcome of your research. I’m not sure that better animal husbandry should in itself put something in the premium category – I don’t expect our preferred supermarket to compromise on this in any way. It gets more difficult when considering organically-grown vegetables, or fair-trade groceries, because these are usually inherently more expensive but not necessarily better products; I think these should stand on their own classification as “Organic” or “Fairtrade” – further differentiation will only confuse the situation further.


I am very suspicious of budget price foods and the possibility that they might not be wholesome. On the other hand, premium products can be expensive and I only buy these regularly if the quality is better.

I try not to buy highly processed food such as ready meals very often, though they can be very convenient. I have a cursory glance at the ingredients and nutritional information when shopping and study this when I get home. Whether I will buy a product again depends not just on taste/texture/price but what is on the label. The ‘traffic light’ labels that are gradually appearing are a great help to alert me to products loaded with fat, salt and sugar.

I agree with what John has said about the need for good animal husbandry, irrespective of price.

I am happy to buy Fairtrade products and do so in the hope/belief that the scheme is run honestly. I On the other hand I am not keen to pay very much extra for organic products.

Erik99 says:
21 June 2014

Aren’t you being rather trusting of the higher priced foods? Who’s to say that the expensive versions are produced in a better way? Companies will economise where they can.


That is a very fair question Erik. Meat is expensive so is a prime target for cost cutting. To take an extreme example, think of what Jamie Oliver told us about turkey twizzlers and other cheap ‘meat’ products fed to school kids. They are made from mechanically recovered meat produced by pressure washing carcases, with ground-up connective tissue, etc. I wonder what’s in sausages or any highly processed meat. Even quite expensive cooked ham consists of bits of ham stuck together and sliced to make it look as if it is from a joint. Look for the air holes and compare the appearance with ham that you have cooked yourself.

I followed the horse meat incident it was generally cheaper products that were affected. Comparing the labels of processed foods will often show that cheaper ingredients such as fat and sugar are used more in budget brands. Ready meals from the expensive supermarkets are often laden with fat too, so we certainly cannot assume that price directly relates to quality.

With meat I prefer to buy stuff that looks like meat. Malcolm has given us a good example of how to buy cheaper cuts of meat, where you can see what you are buying. There’s no need to eat meat in large quantities or every day.

I have tried to explain my view but basically I agree with you. It is difficult to know whether paying a bit more will give us better and more wholesome food.


We enjoy eating (some don’t) and buy what we believe to be decent quality food from what hope is a reliable source. We think it important not to risk food of dubious origins, doubtful constituents and adulteration, so are prepared to pay a little more than we maybe could. It doesn’t mean expensive food – a decent quality casserole steak makes a low-cost meal that is tasty and tender wheras this sort of meat can be tough. So far so good. Amongst that we use own brand beans, tinned tomatos, biscuits, sauces, cereals for example – tried them first compared to Heinz, HP, Crawfords etc and liked them as much, or better, and they were significantly cheaper. To us it is a case of quality and trust, so wouldn’t touch “value” or equivalent branded products.

Rainbow says:
19 June 2014

I go for low sugar/low salt wherever possible but have to admit that I am that tedious old biddy who actually reads the list of ingredients before deciding whether to buy branded goods or not.
We are limited in our choice of supermarket where I live so our choice is not as great as I would like.
I rarely if ever buy the budget end though – Hell, even the cats refuse supermarket budget food!